Case study: boosting housebuilding with standardised design

Construction crane lowering roof onto house. Credit: AIMCH.

Credit: AIMCH (Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes)

The Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH) consortium is exploring how keeping key dimensions the same across different house types, known as ‘standardised design’, can increase housebuilding and meet government targets.

The housebuilding sector is currently only delivering 10% of the UK government target of 300,000 new homes built per year, and continue to fall short of quality standards.

This is caused by several factors:

  • a fragmented, risk-averse industry
  • an ageing workforce with no new skilled workers entering the industry
  • poor productivity and inefficiencies through the supply chain
  • high building costs.

125,000 more homes with new approach

By using improved digital systems, efficient scheduling and standardised design and supply chain processes throughout the build, more houses can go up in half the time, using the same skilled workforce.

The AIMCH partnership has captured data on real sites that show 125,000 more homes could be built each year with the same workforce across the UK.

Read more about the AIMCH project (AIHMC website).

Comparing old and new construction methods

AIMCH lead partner Stewart Milne Group and key supply chain SME Forster Group are working together to change the build process for:

  • Barratt Homes, the UK’s largest housebuilder
  • L&Q, the second biggest social housing provider in the UK.

They committed to trial a mixture of approaches on live sites, side by side with traditional methods to directly compare.

For the new approach components were prepared in factories and assembled on-site in a schedule that maximises the time of the skilled labour.

For instance, roof tiling is done on the ground and then the roof system lifted into place, limiting the use and cost of scaffolding, and making the building watertight in a day.

Safer and more efficient

The new methods were considerably safer for employees and showed significant improvements in productivity, efficiency, speed and cost. The project has calculated a 52% faster build than ‘brick and block’, 14 weeks compared to 29 weeks.

AIMCH aims to produce a single seamless digital system that will allow businesses to process offsite manufacturing from concept design to completion.

Last updated: 19 January 2021

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